March 12, 2009
Hokies lead wire-to-wire in ACC tournament win over Miami
By Jimmy Robertson
12F
Miami (18-12) 242347
Virginia Tech (18-13) 283765
  • Atlanta, Ga., Georgia Dome
  • High Points: 17 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 8 - JT Thompson, A.D. Vassallo
More From The Game

Vassallo’s day: In addition to setting the career record for 3-pointers made, A.D. Vassallo added to his career point total. He now has 1,751 points for his career and needs just 32 more to move past Bob Ayersman into seventh place on Tech’s all-time list and just 36 more to move past Zabian Dowdell into sixth place.
With 54 more points, he would break into the top five on the all-time list.

Delaney sets free-throw mark: By hitting 14-of-15 from the free-throw line, Malcolm Delaney set the Tech single-season record for free throws made. The 14 made free throws give him 205 on the season, snapping the previous mark of 200 set by Bimbo Coles during the 1987-88 campaign.
Delaney’s 87.6 percentage would be the third-highest single-season percentage in school history if the season ended today.

Delaney with Tech tournament record: Delaney tied a career high with eight assists and also set the Hokies’ single-game record for assists in an ACC tournament game. The previous Tech tournament game record was six by Zabian Dowdell in a win over Wake Forest in the 2007 quarterfinals.
Delaney most recently recorded eight assists in the Hokies’ win over Charleston Southern on Jan. 7.

Photo Gallery: View photos from the game.

ATLANTA – Even though the Hokies had lost three straight and six of seven down the stretch against a brutal schedule, Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg kept telling people that his team was actually playing well.

In the first round of the ACC tournament, they played great.

Tech played arguably its best all-around game of the season, leading front start to finish, holding Miami to its smallest scoring output in more than four years, and using a 14-0 second-half run to pull away in a 65-47 hammer job of the Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.

The all-important victory – Tech’s second over the ’Canes this season – snapped that three-game Tech skid and moved the Hokies to 18-13 overall on the season. Miami, which came into the game having won three of its past four, fell to 18-12 overall and lost to the Hokies in the ACC tournament for the second straight season.

“I told them – ‘Don’t be afraid,’” Greenberg said of the message to his team entering the tournament. “Just go out and play. Trust yourselves. Play to win and enjoy the moment. That was my biggest focus.

“There is so much pressure about the [NCAA] tournament that they lose track of [the fact] that, two years ago, they were riding in vans to AAU games and playing at 8 o’clock in the morning and then 2 and then 4. I wanted them to enjoy this because they had worked to get to this point. Hopefully, that helped us just relax and go out and play.”

Tech knocked off Miami 88-83 in overtime in the teams’ first meeting this season. But the Hokies quelled the ’Canes this time by playing superb defense, holding Miami to its smallest scoring output since registering just 43 points in a loss to Louisville on New Year’s Eve in 2005.

It was also the smallest amount by a Tech opponent in an ACC tournament game. Miami, which missed eight of its first nine attempts, shot just 34.6 percent from floor, the lowest percentage by an ACC opponent against the Hokies this season.

Perhaps more impressively, the Hokies held Miami’s sensational Jack McClinton to just nine points – tying a season-low for him. The first-team All-ACC guard went into the game averaging 19.7 points per game, but the combination of Dorenzo Hudson and Malcolm Delaney held the senior from Baltimore to just 4-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. McClinton did not get to the free-throw line and he also turned the ball over seven times, which marked a season high.

“I feel like, as a team, we did a good job on him,” said Hudson, who started and scored seven points. “I was chasing him real hard and the big men were doing a good job of stepping out on ball screens. Sometimes, I’d deny him the ball, and other times, if he caught it, I’d close out real hard on him with my hands high. It was a collective effort.
“I knew I was going to guard him, but I didn’t think I’d see him that much because Malcolm and J.T. [Thompson] did a good job on him the last time. I guess it was my time. They switched him [McClinton] over to the 2 and it was my time to guard him, so I tried to see what I could do.”

“We guarded him by committee,” Greenberg said. “It wasn’t just Malcolm and it wasn’t just Dorenzo. It was the guy playing the passer and the guy playing the screener. There was a lot to it. It was a collective team effort because he’s such a good player.”

The Hokies led by as many as 14 in the first half, but by just four at halftime as Miami closed the half with a 9-0 run. In the second half, the Hokies built the lead back to 11, but again, the ’Canes came back, cutting the lead to 43-37 on a 3-pointer by Lance Hurdle with 10:55 left in the game.

But Tech responded with that game-clinching 14-0 run. Fueled by Thompson’s six points in the run, the Hokies opened a 57-37 bulge on Thompson’s basket with 7:15 left. Miami got no closer than 18 the rest of the way.

Thompson played one of his best games of the season, coming off the bench to score 12 points and grabbed eight boards in 23 minutes. The sophomore from Monroe, N.C., hit all five of his shot attempts and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line.

“I think we’re better when I give a little more,” Thompson said. “Today, I was able to score and grab some rebounds. It doesn’t matter if I start or come off the bench as long as I’m giving the team something.”

“He was the energizer bunny,” Greenberg said. “He gave us great toughness today. He was flying around.

“The three keys to the game were we did a very good job on McClinton, we knew they were going to open in a zone and we were poised against the zone early on, and J.T. gave us an energy off the bench.”

Delaney led the Hokies with 17 points, with 14 of those coming from the free-throw line. He hit just 1-of-10 from the floor, but canned 14-of-15 from the stripe, and he also dished out eight assists, tying a career high. A.D. Vassallo added 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Vassallo’s two 3-pointers in the game to break the Tech career record for 3-pointers. He now has 258 for his career, breaking Wally Lancaster’s mark of 257 set from 1986-89.

For the game, Tech shot 50 percent from the floor – its first 50 percent performance since knocking off Virginia at Cassell Coliseum in early January and just its third of the entire season. The Hokies also pounded Miami on the glass, out-rebounding the bigger ’Canes by a margin of 35-22.

Tech now gets set for its next challenge. In a rematch of a quarterfinal game last year, the Hokies take on No. 1 North Carolina on Friday at noon in a quarterfinal match-up at the Georgia Dome. The Hokies lost to the Tar Heels 86-78 a little over a week ago at Cassell Coliseum.

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).

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